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Saturday, 13 October, 2001, 19:33 GMT 20:33 UK
Foot-and-mouth tests in Cumbria
Sheep grazing
Test results are not expected for 48 hours
Tests for foot-and-mouth disease are being carried out on a farm in Cumbria.

It is the first suspected case since the last confirmed outbreak on 30 September and comes hours after agriculture minister Elliot Morley said he was "cautiously optimistic" about bringing the disease under control.

Cattle on the farm near Whitehaven have been slaughtered as a precaution, but test results will not be known for several days.

Disease facts
Total cases: 2,030
Slaughtered: 3,904,000
Awaiting slaughter: 2,000
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Saturday, Mr Morley said: "We can't rule out altogether that there might be the odd outbreak but generally all the indications are very positive.

"So therefore it is very important that farmers don't drop their guard, that they keep good standards of bio security and regularly inspect their animals."

He acknowledged that lessons had to be learned from this year's experience.

He said: "We will have to look at the whole issue of our contingency plans for an outbreak on this scale and this size."

On Friday, the government's chief scientific adviser Professor David King said he was optimistic the battle to eradicate foot-and-mouth disease was working.

But he revealed his unhappiness that cases of the farm disease were persisting.

Professor David King, government's chief scientific adviser
Professor David King: hopeful but unhappy
Mr King said that enough time had now elapsed between the last confirmed case of the disease two weeks ago for him to be hopeful - although not confident - that the epidemic was nearing an end.

However, he warned this was not a signal for UK farmers to relax their disinfection and isolation procedures.

And he stressed that Britain would need to be free of the disease for at least three to four months before government officials could be truly confident.

See also:

11 Oct 01 | England
Cull was 'chaos and a shambles'
04 Oct 01 | England
Council inquiry to be webcast
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